Dietary Minerals

Minerals are chemical elements that come from the earth. Plants absorb essential minerals through their roots, deficiency in the soil will stunt plant growth just like dietary deficiency will damage human health.

They say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but while the hardest mineral known to man does provide some serious bling, it is not an essential component in any vital human function… just don’t tell your girlfriend you heard it from me.

There are roughly 30 minerals known for their use in human biology, of those elements these 11 essential minerals are critical in maintaining bodily functions and must be consumed from dietary sources to maintain efficient nutrient levels.

Dietary minerals work in close association with enzymes across all major systems in the body, for optimal utilization of these nutrients pair protein consumption with foods rich in these essential minerals. See: Proteins for an overview of enzyme functions.

Calcium

The most abundant mineral in the human body, serving as a component in bone structures. Calcium promotes nerve transmission and hormonal secretion, supports cardiovascular and digestive system functions, and regulates acid/alkaline balance.

  • Kale
  • Sardines
  • Yogurt and milk
  • Watercress
  • Cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, swiss, cheddar)
  • Bok choy
  • Tofu
  • Broccoli
  • Okra
  • Almonds

For optimal absorption, pair Calcium with foods rich in Magnesium and Vitamin D. Magnesium and Vitamin D promote absorption of Calcium in the bloodstream and reduce excretion in urine. If levels of available Calcium in the blood are low, Vitamin D will pull the required nutrients out of bones to compensate. To preserve bone health, increase Calcium intake when consuming Vitamin D in excess.

Potassium

Serves as an electrolyte to promote chemical and electrical impulses in the body, maintains hydration by balancing with fluid levels. Regulates blood pressure, balances acidity in the blood and protects from kidney damage. Potassium is essential for maintaining cardiovascular and neuro-muscular functions.

  • Beans (white/navy, soy, lima)
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Avocado
  • Chard
  • Spinach
  • Apricots
  • Salmon and clams
  • Acorn squash
  • Artichoke

Sodium is required to carry out most potassium-dependent functions, including the regulation of ATP reactions for muscle contraction, but excess sodium will wreck havoc on the cardiovascular system. For optimal utilization of these minerals, increase potassium to sodium ratio and drink plenty of fluids.

Iron

Required for production of hemoglobin and myoglobin in red blood cells, used to transport oxygen throughout the bloodstream. Iron supports healthy growth and metabolism, maintains cellular function and hormonal production, and regulates conversion of calories for use as energy.

  • Organ meats, particularly chicken liver
  • Dark chocolate
  • Spirulina
  • Squash and pumpkin seeds
  • Shellfish, salmon and sardines
  • Nuts (pine, cashew, hazelnut, peanut, almond, pistachio)
  • Beef and lamb
  • Beans (white/navy, lentil, kidney, garbanzo, lima, black, pinto)
  • Spinach and chard
  • Quinoa, oats and rice

For optimal absorption, pair with foods rich in Copper, Vitamin C and Vitamin D. Copper promotes absorption of Iron and aids in production of red blood cells. Iron deficiency can lead to the most common form of anemia.

Magnesium

Stored primarily as a component in bone structures. Regulates enzyme functions, required for processing ATP in nerve impulses and muscle contractions. Magnesium is essential in protein synthesis, neuro-muscular function, and blood glucose regulation for energy production.

  • Spinach and chard
  • Seeds (sesame, squash and pumpkin)
  • Mackerel
  • Yogurt
  • Nuts (brazil, almond, cashew, pine)
  • Beans (soy, white/navy, kidney, garbanzo, lentil, pinto)
  • Quinoa and brown rice
  • Avocado and artichoke
  • Figs, prunes, apricots and bananas
  • Dark chocolate

Magnesium promotes production of thyroid hormones, regulating absorption of Calcium in the intestines and excretion in urine. For optimal utilization of these nutrients, pair Magnesium with foods rich in Calcium and Vitamin D.

Copper

Co-factor required for enzymes that catalyze oxidation-reduction reactions, protects the nervous system from damage by free-radicals. Minor component required to synthesize the structural protein collagen found in bones and blood vessels. Copper maintains healthy cardiovascular, neurological, immune and skeletal system functions.

  • Oysters, squid, octopus, lobster and crab
  • Raw kale, turnip greens, avocado and asparagus
  • Organ meats, particularly beef liver
  • Mushrooms
  • Seeds (sesame, sunflower, flax, squash and pumpkin)
  • Beans (soy, kidney, white/navy, garbanzo, lentil)
  • Nuts (cashew, hazel, brazil, walnut, pine, pistachio, almond)
  • Prunes, apricots, peaches, raisins and figs
  • Tempeh, soy products and goat cheese
  • Dark chocolate

Copper aids in Iron absorption, working with Iron in production of red blood cells and cellular metabolism of carbohydrates for use as energy. For optimal utilization of these nutrients, pair Copper and Iron consumption.

Iodine

Promotes production of hormones in the thyroid. Iodine supports energy production, healthy growth and metabolism. Both deficiency and excess consumption of Iodine can lead to hormonal imbalances.

  • Sea vegetables
  • Cod, shrimp and tuna
  • Yogurt
  • Raw milk and cheese
  • Potatoes
  • Beans (White/navy and lima)
  • Eggs
  • Turkey
  • Cranberries
  • Strawberries

Manganese

Co-factor required for enzymes used in thyroid hormone production, metabolism of amino acids and carbohydrates, and bone building. Essential component in synthesis of the structural protein collagen, serves as an antioxidant in skin cells to protect from damage by free-radicals and UV rays. Manganese maintains healthy bone density, neurological functions, and blood sugar levels.

  • Mussels, clams, crayfish, bass, trout, pike and perch
  • Herbs (cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, tumeric, garlic, basil, cumin, oregano, thyme, dill, parsley)
  • Greens (spinach, collards, beet greens, chard, kale, turnip greens, sea vegetables, bok choy, brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower)
  • Nuts (hazel, pecan, walnut, macadamia, almond, cashew, pistachio, peanut)
  • Seeds (squash and pumpkin, chia, sesame, flax, sunflower)
  • Fruit (pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, bananas, kiwi)
  • Soy products (tofu, tempeh, soybeans, miso)
  • Beans (lima, lentils, garbanzo, white/navy, kidney, pinto, black, peas, green beans)
  • Grains (teff, oats, rice, quinoa, barley, rye, whole wheat, millet)
  • Black tea

Molybdenum

Co-factor for enzymes that detoxify harmful substances, catalyze antioxidant reactions, and aid in connective tissue development, primarily by regulating sulfur balance in the body. Molybdenum maintains brain and nervous system functions, serving as a co-factor for enzymes that regulate the breakdown of adrenaline, noradrenaline, serotonin and melatonin neuro-transmissions.

  • Beans (lentils, peas, lima, kidney, soy, black, pinto, garbanzo)
  • Oats
  • Tomato and cucumber
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Celery
  • Barley
  • Eggs
  • Carrots
  • Bell peppers
  • Peanuts, walnuts, almonds and sesame seeds

Essential for maintaining sulfur balance, for optimal utilization of these nutrients, pair sources sulfur-containing amino acids with foods rich in Molybdenum.

Phosphorous

The second most abundant mineral in the human body, serving as a critical component in bone and cell structures, required for synthesis of ATP, DNA and RNA. Regulates acid-base balance, energy processing, metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, and vital cellular functions. Phosphorous is essential in protein synthesis for growth, maintenance, and repair of cell tissues.

  • Seeds (squash and pumpkin, sunflower, chia, sesame, watermelon, flax)
  • Cheese (romano, parmesan, goat, mozzarella, swiss)
  • Salmon, carp, cod, tuna, shrimp and mackerel
  • Scallops, sardines, clams, shrimp, mussels and crab
  • Mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, brussels sprouts, beet greens, chard, bok choy, turnip greens and cauliflower
  • Nuts (brazil, pine, almond, cashew, pistachio)
  • Meats (turkey, chicken, pork, beef, veal)
  • Yogurt and milk
  • Soy products (tofu, tempeh, soybeans, edamame)
  • Beans (lentils, white/navy, garbanzo, pinto, kidney)

For optimal absorption, pair with foods rich in Vitamin D.

Selenium

Co-factor for enzymes that aid in detoxification and oxidation-reduction.

  • Nuts (brazil, cashew, walnut, macademia)
  • Oysters, scallops, mussels, lobster, clams, squid and shrimp
  • Tuna, shrimp, salmon, cod, rockfish, swordfish, halibut, tilapia, mackerel and sardines
  • Grains (whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, barley, oatmeal)
  • Seeds (sunflower, chia, sesame, flax, squash and pumpkin)
  • Pork, beef, lamb, turkey, chicken and tofu
  • Organ meats, particularly beef liver
  • Eggs
  • Spinach, asparagus, broccoli and chard
  • Mushrooms

Selenium works with Iodine to maintain healthy hormonal production in the thyroid, pair consumption of these nutrients for optimal utilization. Vitamin C and Vitamin E can supplement as antioxidants, but deficiency in all three can leave the body susceptible to damage by oxidation.

Zinc

Serves as a co-factor for enzymes that support neurological and immune system functions, promote sensory impulses, and maintain healthy skin.

  • Oysters, crab, lobster and shrimp
  • Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey and tofu
  • Greens (spinach, asparagus, beet greens, broccoli, chard, brussels sprouts, bok choy)
  • Mushrooms
  • Seeds (squash and pumpkin, sesame, watermelon)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Garlic, wheat germ and sea vegetables
  • Beans (garbanzo, kidney, lentils, peas)
  • Nuts (cashew, pine, pecan, almond, hazel, walnut, peanut)

For optimal absorption, pair with foods rich in Vitamin D.

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4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Essential Nutrients and Where to Find Them | Zu-Zu Lee

  2. Pingback: Proteins | Zu-Zu Lee

  3. Pingback: Fatty Acids | Zu-Zu Lee

  4. Pingback: Vitamins | Zu-Zu Lee

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